This is a break from the knitting focus. The events in Newtown, CT have weighed heavily. Here’s what I shared with the congregation I currently serve – Church of the Roses in Santa Rosa, CA.
Today as we come in prayer we bring heavy hearts. The shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, are of a nature that render speech nearly impossible, and tears near. Twenty-eight lives were cut down on Friday, as we know, most of them small children, others adults protecting them, and finally the disturbed shooter.
We have personal connection to this tragedy beyond the news reports. Delores Dewhurst’s little grandson, Carter, lost his best friend, Ben Wheeler, in the shootings on Friday. Ben leaves behind his parents, David and Francine, and an older brother Nate. Ben’s family are members of Trinity Episcopal Church in Newton.
As with many his age here in the US and around the world, Carter is learning the cost of violence at far too early an age. He is being helped through time by his family including his parents, Jeff and Bobbie Dewhurst.
As people of faith, we have ways of responding that are particular to our tradition. On the Advent wreath today, we have put a yellow rose in honor and memory of those who were injured or lost their lives. We also have scripture to turn to. The Bible has a language of lament – and this language reminds us that God does not simply want our words of praise, that to speak to God is to speak fully of all the human emotions – grief, sadness, despair, anger included.
Hear these words from the prophet Jeremiah:
Thus says the Lord:
A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.
And from Psalm 42:
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me continually,
‘Where is your God?’
Let us enter a time of silence to remember those who were lost to us on Friday.
Let us pray:
In this season of Advent, we are brought short by the killings in Connecticut,
And find that our journey to Bethlehem is suddenly filled with grief and fear.
In that, we travel a similar way to that of Joseph and Mary.
We do not understand why this has happened,
We are angry that it did,
And we are also stunned into silence.
Beyond silence, we bring our tears and our fears to you.
We ask that in the coming weeks that you help to transform them,
Transform them into useful action
To reduce violence in our communities, especially toward children,
And to find treatment for those who suffer from mental illness.
Our hearts reach out to all the families and the communities devastated by this violent tragedy.
May they know the comfort of many arms to hold them,
The support of community to bear their grief with them.
The nearness of your life-giving Spirit in the midst of destruction,
And in the coming months and years, the healing of the community.
In this Advent Season,
We are grateful to see pinpricks of light amid these dark events:
We are grateful for firefighters and police who safely responded to the emergency
And took gentle care of traumatized children.
We are grateful for teachers who tucked away children from harm’s reach
And those children who helped their friends escape to life.
Today, perhaps more than ever, we are in need of your healing love,
For our families,
For our communities,
For our nation, and
For our earth.
Come quickly, God of all things, we need you. Amen.